KC Royals: Ignore any whispers about Greg Holland

Do the KC Royals have good reason to be concerned about Greg Holland?

Somewhere, someone is whispering concerns about KC Royals reliever Greg Holland. Yes, the very same Greg Holland whose return to form last season drew raves and had an enthusiastic fanbase clamoring for the Royals to re-sign him over the winter, and fretting that they wouldn’t.

After Kansas City’s 4-2 loss to Cleveland Wednesday afternoon, whispers are inevitable. Holland gave up a two-run eighth inning homer run to Jose Ramirez that broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Indians a win and split of this brief two game series. It was Holland’s second subpar relief appearance in as many outings.

That the day wouldn’t be Holland’s was evident with his first four pitches, all of which missed the strike zone and resulted in a quick walk to leadoff man Ben Gamel. Holland looked impatient with himself but struck out Cesar Hernandez before Ramirez parked a full-count slider over the right field fence. Holland then gave up two straight hits, forcing Manager Mike Matheny to replace him with rookie Jake Brentz, who retired the Tribe without further incident.

Holland’s line for the day? Two runs, three hits, one walk and a strikeout. His early ERA is 18.00. If he can take solace in anything, it’s that Ramirez treated fellow Kansas City reliever Jesse Hahn identically—he hit Hahn’s second pitch for a solo home run in the sixth.

Scattered grumblings about Holland will arise from concern about this game and his only other appearance of the year, a ragged Opening Day performance against Texas. Although he rescued the Royals from a bases loaded jam in the eighth, Holland gave up a single and two walks, and a run on a wild pitch, before Wade Davis bailed him out.

But those inevitable whispers about the 35-year old Holland are ill-advised and premature. That he hasn’t been sharp yet and hasn’t looked like the Holland who pitched so effectively last season is true, but he’s only pitched twice and the season is only five games old.

Some, though, are sure to be whispering already, wondering if his first two appearances signal trouble and if Holland is losing his effectiveness. That, unfortunately, is the very nature of the early-season beast. Baseball memories, especially those of fans hungry for the Royals to be relevant again, are short; too easily forgotten is that relievers like Holland thrive on regular work and he hadn’t pitched in almost a week, which might account for his apparent discomfort on the mound today.

And lest anyone forget, Holland had only one subpar spring training outing, pitched well last year, and didn’t give up a run in his last 13 2020 games.

Holland will be fine.

The KC Royals lost, but did several things well before heading to Chicago.

Cleveland wasn’t kind to Holland or Hahn, but other Royals turned in good performances Wednesday.

Jakob Junis lost his spot in the starting rotation last season but figures to be a prominent piece in the bullpen this year. Pressed into service as a starter today, however, he excelled. Junis struck out six in five scoreless, one-hit innings; he hasn’t been scored upon in three appearances.

Nicky Lopez’s RBI single in the seventh tied the game and pushed him to 7-for-16. He also drew a walk and has hit safely in every game.

Brentz has now pitched three times and hasn’t given up a run, and Scott Barlow struck out three in the inning he worked.

The Royals left for Chicago after the loss. They open a three-game series with the White Sox Thursday.

Some may be nervous about Greg Holland after his rough Wednesday outing. But it’s far too early to worry about the KC Royals’ veteran reliever.